I was thinking recently about the idea of spiritual directors. I have run across the concept several times recently, but still can’t quite make sense of it. The closest I can come is if it is essentially a mentoring relationship. That does make sense to me, while having someone to direct my spiritual development sounds rather strange, as if I had not already been raised and nurtured in the faith enough during my growing up years. Those more familiar with the concept can correct me of course.
As a mentor though, it makes some sense. I mean, if I were to enter the ministry, I would be quite lost, and looking for all the advice I could get about how to plan, schedule, and interact with a congregation. I have to admit though, that since that is nowhere on my agenda, I don’t spend a lot of time looking for mentors. I would have been a willing apprentice to someone in the healing prayer ministry, but have not found such a mentor. And yet, I find God brings me insights, often through my reading, or during my few experiences with the ministry at Ashram.
What came to mind though, was that I once had a mentor, in the form of the female half of my youth leadership team, when I was in junior high and high school. We were led by a married couple, both talented teachers, who otherwise had complementary gifts. It was not a formal arrangement at all, I merely followed Wanda around, determined to learn all I could about living as a christian woman. Actually it was interesting looking back, because I was acting pretty much crossways to most of the kids. For the most part, the girls were trying to figure out males, so they flocked around Dave. The boys likewise flocked around Wanda. Yet here I was always shadowing her. I think the guys thought of me as something of a tomboy as a result.
Now this couple was very open about their faith and their lives. As we all learned to drive, we began going over to hang out at their house, between the usual Sunday and Wednesday meetings. On occasion, I even traveled with Wanda and I remember at least one occasion where I helped plan something or other with her. But basically, I think I got what I was after. By the time I was in college, I no longer needed to hang with her so much. When I returned I sought her advice on one sticky problem, with disastrous results. Perhaps that was when I decided that I no longer needed her as an advisor.
So, on encountering the concept of a spiritual director, I found it rather surprising that there are those who feel the need of such guidance well into adulthood. Honestly, I wonder how one feels qualified to give advice. I put my two cents worth in, when my best friend was talking about leaving her job. I did not think it was God’s will, honestly. But as it turned out, she had medical issues that were much better handled in her new home. I prayed honestly about it, but God chose not to tip me off that there was more at stake than it appeared. So, if you have a spiritual director, couldn’t they make a similar mistake?
Anyway, I’m opening this up for comments. Was there someone who was instrumental in your Christian discipleship? Have you had multiple mentors or just one or two? If it were offered, would you want a spiritual director?